tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN January 11, 2018 11:00pm-12:00am PST
this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. the president of the united states is racist. a lot of us already knew that. today president trump talking with lawmakers in the oval office about immigrants from haiti, from el salvador and africa, said, and i quote, "why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?" but you know who he did say he would welcome here? he said the u.s. should bring in more people from countries like norway. and cnn is told he went on to say why do we need more haitians? take them out.
those comments are frankly disgusting. there's other language i'd like to use, but we are on television. but you know what? they're not shocking. not even really surprising. because this is who donald trump is. this is what he thinks. apparently we have to go through this repertoire every time he says something like this or exhibits some racist behavior. this is a man who in the oval office meeting last year said nigerian immigrants should, in his words, go back to their huts, who in that same meeting said all haitian immigrants have aids. the man who based his entire political career for years on the racist birther lie that president barack obama was born in africa. a man who reportedly still believes that to this day. the man who started his campaign trashing mexicans and then made the muslim ban a centerpiece of his bid. the man who responded to white supremacists who killed a young woman in charlottesville by
claiming there were, in his words, very fine people on both sides. the man who responded to protest by black nfl players by calling them, quote, "sons of bitches." do i need to go on with all of this? i get tired of saying it. this is a man who today complained about immigrants who, quote, "are from shithole countries." tonight a white house official told cnn that they're not worried, they think this is good for them and the president's comments will actually resonate with his base. jesus. admitting that for all their talk about making america great the president is playing to a base that welcomes his racism and will enjoy it. and that is disgraceful. with that said, here's what's worse and probably the most important point. so gather around the television, everyone. and this is for anyone who may be taken aback by my comments. i want to be very clear here. i don't really care if you are. i hope you are. for years now it has been, you
know, 2 1/2 years since he officially entered the political arena. for years i and others have been trying to tell you the american people that this man was exhibiting bigoted behavior. i asked him about it a number of times and he denied it. but kept up the racist rhetoric and behavior throughout the campaign and now, well, he's in the white house. his supporters made excuses, continue to make excuses for him. some of them people i personally know. some of them are his friends, as a matter of fact, and i can hear them now telling me oh, don, donald didn't mean, that donald isn't a racist. or just people who don't know him, i think it was taken out of context, i'm not sure. how many examples do you need of this? but he is a racist. and for all of you who over the last few years have uttered that tired lazy uninformed, uneducated ignorant response of calling me and others who point out racist behavior racists, you know what you can go do?
i can't say that. but you can go read a book. a history book. because you might learn that people from some of those shithole countries were slaves who were brought here by force to help build this country and then start your learning process from there. you also might want to do some self-examination. what does it say about you that no matter what, no matter what you continue to make excuses for this man, for his vile behavior, this sort of vile behavior? doesn't that make you just as bad if not worse than him? and i have to be honest. i was not shocked that donald trump reportedly called the majority of black and hispanic countries or continents shitholes. i wasn't shocked. i'm not outraged by it. i'm not outraged. i'm tired of being outraged, as a matter of fact. i've been outraged too many times. it's more important to be strategic than to be outraged. some people can be outraged but it's more important for
levelheaded people to be strategic rather than outraged. otherwise it becomes a sky is falling situation every time he says something dumb or stupid or racist. here's why i'm not outraged. because people of color warned you. you called us racists or race baiters. i'm not mad that you called me those things because i'm not one of them. so why are you mad if someone calls you a racist if you know you're not one? think about that. if you know you're not a racist, then why are you mad about it when someone calls out racism? what does that say about you? you know what those black and brown folks who you call racist are saying now? they're saying you bought it, you own it. and as we say in the south, and you know what this means, bless your heart. i want to bring in now cnn political commentators charles blow and maria cardona, republican strategist rick wilson and john fredericks, former co-chair of the trump campaign in virginia. maria, what do you think? >> oh, my goodness. don, amen to everything you just
said because you're right, i am tired of being outraged. this is nothing new for those of us who knew that this man was completely unfit to be president of the united states, and frankly that goes for the majority of the american people, who did not vote for him. the words that have come out of the president's mouth tonight are racist, are bigoted, are anti-immigrant, and they are xenophobic. and they are those things, don, because this president is a racist, he is anti-immigrant, he is xenophobic, and he's a bigot. and there is nothing that will convince me and so many other americans who have seen this president denigrate our pure american values of equality, of a level playing field, of understanding that you can come to this country seeking a better life and lift yourselves up from the bootstraps, that's a republican ideal, by the way, and become an american and live the american dream.
that is why my parents came here. that is why they brought me as a 2-year-old immigrant from colombia who i'm sure this president also sees as a shithole country. my father came here with not a cent in his pocket, and he sent all of his three children to school. one is an engineer. one is an entrepreneur. and i am here tonight speaking to you on national television. not one year ago, don, my children were on with you on the set during the inauguration and you asked them, a 13-year-old -- well, back then a 12-year-old and a 9-year-old, a 12-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl, and you asked them what they thought about the election of trump and they told you they were afraid. they were afraid for themselves and they were afraid for their friends who are in -- they're in a bilingual school and most of them are latino and most of them are african-american. and this president is proving these children right every single day. and that is a sad day for america. >> i want to bring the other panelists in here, but before i
do i want to play some of the offensive things we have heard from this president in the past. watch this. >> i would like to have him show his birth certificate. and can i be honest with you? i hope he can. because if he can't, if he can't, and if he wasn't born in this country, which is a real possibility -- i'm not saying it happened. i'm saying it's a real possibility. much greater than i thought two or three weeks ago. then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics. >> they're bringing drugs. they're bringing crime. they're rapists. and some i assume are good people. >> look at my african-american over here! look at him. are you the greatest? >> we're building a wall. he's a mexican. we're building a wall between here and mexico. >> if you are saying he can't do his job because of his race, is that not the definition of racism? >> i don't think so at all. >> his wife, if you look at his wife, she was standing there, she had nothing to say. she probably -- maybe she wasn't allowed to have anything to say. you tell me.
>> you had some very bad people in that group. but you also had people that were very fine people. on both sides. >> so john fredericks, the reality is that these racist, xenophobic views are one of the most consistent opinions that this president has. >> well, don, it's not about race, as you like to make it, because that's easy and lazy. it's about economics. my comment back to maria is your children are going to have a much better economic future and a better chance for -- >> just giving him his time. >> now, let me -- you called on me. so let me finish. truer words -- >> you know what, john fredericks? you know what, john fredericks? john, until that last comment -- yeah, i'm going to cut you off. can we please cut him off? can we take him off the screen? can we get rid of john fredericks? thank you. first of all, i was going to let him speak until you doubly insulted me.
i don't even need to respond to the lazy comment. i laid it all out in the thing. we can have this conversation and we don't need someone who's going to make excuses for racism. so charles, go on. what do you think of this? >> i think that it is impossible to live your life under the microscope of the presidency and not have your true nature revealed. and what we are seeing is that he continuously over and over reveals the true nature of himself. what makes me doubly sure that it is who he is is that he has never once apologized for it. he has never repented. he has never asked for abc loougs. and in fact the exact opposite is true, which is he has doubled down and defended it. that means this is who he is and not only does he believe he is right in what he's saying, he believes he has the right to say it even as the leader of this country. and i think that once we establish that fact you don't have to argue about -- this is not an ambiguous fact.
this is a real thing. once you establish that, then you have to turn the lens and you look at everybody who's part of the administration whose salaries we are paying, who are making excuses for this and deflecting from it. and you say what does that say about you? you look at every member of congress who some of them come out and say this is bad and they turn right back around and go back into the white house and say this is the greatest guy ever. you say what does that say about you? you look at his supporters and you say this is happening, you keep going back to supporting him. what does that say about you? you look at the people who come on the air with us and defend this man even though you have evidence, you're hearing the exact same things that i am, you have evidence that he has a hostility towards black and brown people and you continue to defend and support. that says to me that you are part of that hostility because there is no daylight between them. let me say this one last thing.
racial animus is a violence unto itself. because it softens the ground for racist policies. and racist policies soften the ground for actual physical violence. and i believe that every time he says something it is softening the ground. and every time someone defends it they are softening the ground. i'm not offended personally. i'm a big boy. but i am offended by people kind of insulting my intelligence by pretending they're not seeing what i'm seeing. >> exactly. rick wilson, i want to bring you in. you tweeted some stuff today and you talked about some issues but i just want to get your take before i read what you tweeted. >> sure. don, i think what we just saw with john tonight, who i kind of wish you'd left on the air because i was -- >> we're going to bring him back. but i just needed a moment. >> but i've got to tell you, the
double horror of this whole thing is not only is this a president who is morally and mentally unfit to hold this office and he demonstrates it more and more every day, but that the thin veneer on this guy that he wasn't the exact same flavor of racist that his racist father was, who was involved in the klan, is stripped bare by this sort of statement, this sort of accusation. the republican party has fought for years to try to get out from under the shadow of being considered to be accommodating to racists. and this is a man who is single-handedly destroying the party of lincoln. you know, richard nixon met with martin luther king when he was the vice president of this country to talk about civil rights. republicans supported the civil rights act. this is a country with a million flaws about our history with race, but we have in general arced toward something better than we started. but donald trump seems determined to turn that around.
he seems determined to become an avatar for these alt right jackholes and to turn this country into a moral shithole because he can't resist giving in to the impulses that drive him. and they are repulsive and they are -- and they are -- like i said, they make him morally unfit to hold this office. >> yeah. so john, hopefully you've calmed down because i invited you to come on. i like hearing from you sometimes. but i'll be damned if i'm going to sit here and let you insult me. so if you would care to apologize for calling me lazy and making an ad hominem attack against me. i didn't call you names. i didn't call you lazy. so if you want to have a conversation with me and be smart about it, then we can do so. but if you're not going to do that, then i do not want to hear from you. >> don, i apologize. i meant no offense. >> apology accepted. >> truer words today in the oval office have never been said. this is what people say around
their kitchen table. right? this is what you guys have to understand that you don't really get. and this is not about race. this is about economics. donald trump is not the president of haiti. he's not the president of africa. he's the president of the united states. his job is to protect and secure and to increase the prosperity of americans. >> what does that have do do with calling -- can we put everyone on the screen? bays want everyone to see the reaction here. what does this have to do with calling black and brown countries shitholes? and just because you say it around your kitchen table, that was the whole point -- maybe you didn't hear my opening monologue -- >> i heard your oemg monologue -- >> it doesn't necessarily make it true. you said truer words have never been spoken. do you in fact yourself believe that these countries are shitholes? >> what i believe is, look, there's two issues here -- >> do you in fact believe -- because you said to me that truer words have never been spoken. do you think these countries are
shitholes? >> i believe that taking in lottery visa scam immigrants from countries that have low education -- >> you're not answering my question. you're not answering my question. can you just be honest enough to answer -- >> i'm trying to give you a substantive -- >> if you're going to come on and make a claim that truer words have never been spoken then give me the evidence that it's true. do you believe it or not? and you must believe it -- >> if you just cut me off, there's no conversation. >> answer my question and i'll let you go. do you believe it's true? >> i believe that the immigrants from these countries that are coming in under the scam visa lottery system are uneducated and very low skilled. and so here's what happens. they come to the united states and they do nothing to increase the prosperity of the american worker -- >> oh, my god. i cannot believe those words are coming out of your mouth. >> let him finish. >> or they go on welfare and extend our entitlement system.
i mean, this is the economic reality you that people do not grasp and understand -- >> i'm sorry. >> okay, john. >> uneducated workers coming into the -- look, australia and canada have a merit-based system. they're run by liberal labor governments. you know why they do that? because they want to bring people into their country who are going to enhance the prosperity of their citizens. >> i'm sorry. who do you think -- >> let other people -- >> who do you think -- >> he's the president of america, not of haiti or africa or these other countries. >> maria first. >> who do you think picks the vegetables and the fruits that end up on your freight and in your belly? who do you think cleans the hotel rooms that you go when you stay at five-star resort hotels? who do you think buses your tables and cooks your food? i am sorry. that is the most offensive thing that i have heard this night in addition to what donald trump said. >> really? >> immigrants come to this country even though -- >> what is -- >> let me finish.
even though they are low skilled but they give everything they have to this country. they give an incredible work ethic that frankly is better than a lot of native-born americans and they focus on making a better life for themselves and their kids. do you think that they wake up one day and think oh, it will be fun to go to a country that i don't know, that i don't know the language, and i don't know the culture and it's a very different culture than mine, i'm going to leave my family because i think it's fun and i just want to live off the government teat? this country up until now has promised them that if they work hard and go by the rules. >> i just want america to understand how -- >> they drive -- >> john, hold on. john, be respectful. hold on. i'm telling people everyone else follows the rules when they come on. if i tell them i said maria, let charles get in, she stopped and she let charles get in. you cannot bulldoze everyone and then expect to get respect on this show.
so let other people say their piece and then you'll get your time. charles, go ahead. >> i just want america to understand how intellectually bereft john's argument was. >> thank you. >> he says that donald trump is not the president of haiti and not the president of africa. first of all, no one can be the president of africa. it's a continent and not a country. number two, he's also not the president of norway, which he said he would prefer more people from there. so that's not american interests. it has nothing to do with that. you also said that they come here and they offer nothing, they do nothing. the only black female republican representative in congress is nia love, who is a haitian immigrant. and she is a republican. and she is i would argue giving back to this country in abundance. i think that you twist yourself into a knot by trying to make
this be something other than what it is. you twist the argument around because you cannot make it make sense other than to be what it is. racism will behave the way racism behaves. it always has, and it always will. and nothing that you can say or that anyone else who is an apologist for trump can say is going to make that difference. as james baldwin said, "i cannot believe what you say because i see what you do." i see you come on television and make this argument in defense of the indefensible. we cannot trust what is coming out of your mouth. your argument is not intellectually sound and it is not morally grounded. >> okay. we'll be right back and we'll hear from our other panelists. don't go anywhere. you won't see these folks they have businesses to run. they have passions to pursue. how do they avoid trips to the post office? stamps.com mail letters, ship packages, all the services of the post office right on your computer.
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>> you know, hearing john's defense of trump and of this overtly racist aspect of it, it shocks me that we still have people in this country -- you know, don't bother calling yourself a conservative if you don't believe that there's a way where people who come and embrace the proposition of this country can become americans because we've worked very hard in this country to accept people from around the world and of varying backgrounds. and you know, what john, i'm sure your ancestors here weren't descended from the mayflower in some cloud of heavenly light. i'm sure they came here from ireland or germany or italy or somewhere else. and you know what? back then they were the shithole people. back then they were the people who were looked down upon. and you know what? if this is a country that's based on the proposition that we have an american system, an american dream, an american framework that allows people to come here and work hard and raise their families and engage in society and contribute to
society, your idea that these people should be bounded out of here because they happen to come from the shithole countries is absurdly un-american, absurdly unconstitutional, and not conservative in any way whatsoever. and if you believe that, go on amazon, order yourself a pointy white hat, head down to home depot and get the wood to build a burning cross because that's the kind of thing you're talking about. that's where your attitude leads to. >> john? >> well, it's about economics, rick. and you can throw all the insults you want, and i appreciate it. but look, at the end of the day -- >> no, you don't appreciate it, john. you are a weak, impotent person who can't handle the fact that there are people who don't look like you who want to come to this country because our system is awesome. you hate that. because you're just so weak inside. >> that's your substantive argument to me, rick wilson, who backed every losing candidate -- >> john, i will gut you like a fish on this show if you want to keep this up. you don't have -- >> all right, you guys. >> your argument is based
entirely on the fact -- >> let's calm down. >> you can insult me all you want. i could really care less. okay, rick. do it. you can tweet it out for your 500 followers. here's the bottom line. this is not about race. the president said for two years he is going to curtail immigration into this country which drives down wages for the worker and he wants to go to -- >> that's just not true. >> hey, john -- >> let him finish. i promise you you'll get a chance. go ahead, john. did you finish the point? >> you know, when you allow people under a scam lottery visa program to come into the united states that do not contribute to the economic well-being of the country, you are either driving down wages -- and i'm telling you, rick and maria and don and charles, this is the unholy alliance of all time between democrats that want open borders
and free immigration -- >> oh, please. >> -- so they can get cheap votes and -- >> okay. so we're getting away from -- >> let me finish. >> hold on, guys. >> and rick wilson -- >> john, you're getting away from actually what the president said today -- >> you're trying to turn it into race and it's not. it's about economics for american workers. >> john. john, the president today said he wants people from places like norway. those are people who are highly educated and skilled. they're going to come here. are you cool with them coming here to take highly skilled and educated jobs from americans? is that what you're saying? or is it just that brown people who are willing to go and work in restaurant kitchens and hotels -- >> or be a congressman. >> -- or golf courses. >> or be congressmen and women. or become astronauts or -- >> of course you're okay with people from norway because they're white. but don, can i make one point? i want to back up what rick wilson said. okay? this is a democrat backing up what a republican conservative is saying.
strategic -- >> a never trumper republican. >> which means i'm an actual conservative unlike you. jesus. >> conservatives and democrats are on the same page for this. let me read a couple of quotes, don. listen to this. who said this? you can go live in france but you can't become a frenchman. you can go live in germany but you can't become german. go live in japan and turkey and you cannot become japanese or turkish. but anyone from any corner of the world can come to the united states and become an american. ronald reagan said that. okay? here's one from mitt romney. we are all a nation of immigrants. we are children and grandchildren of the ones who wanted a better life. the driven ones, the ones who woke up in the middle of the night hearing that voice telling them that life in that place called america could be better. for god's sake, donald trump, if you call yourself a republican, then you need to follow the lead of these real leaders when it comes to immigration or get out. >> charles blow. >> i don't even know how to
follow that. rick said he's going to gut him like a fish. >> he meant intellectually. >> that's not hard. >> i don't buy the economic argument at all. i do believe -- >> actually, the studies show it's not about economics. the whole thing during the lerks even the election of this president was not about economics. it was about race. >> it is cultural anxiety built around race and immigration. but in addition to that the idea that john seems to my ear to be conflating the lottery program that both democrats and republicans have talked about either getting rid of or revamping with comprehensive immigration, which is what i believe they were talking about in the oval office today. when you talk about comprehensive immigration and trying to protect people who may
be coming from vulnerable places, that's an american ideal. we took the dregs of europe, if i may say that, for decades. and in fact, that was kind of the mantra of america. send us your poor. send us your tired. i mean, we did that because that was -- america was the young scrappy place. >> that's part of immigration, what immigration is. >> exactly. but what we're seeing is white america now, and not all white people but i'm just saying people who subscribe to this kind of philosophy, seem to want to lock in the gains. right? america is built -- we want to lock in the demographics of how it looks now. we want to lock in the power structure of how it exists now and not let it continue to be the dynamic place that it always was. >> stand by. are these guys coming back? because i think we've changed a little bit. they're going to come back. can we stop pretending? put everybody up.
can we all please stop pretending that this is about economics? if you do? research, if you read a book, if you do some homework, you will know it's not about economics. it's about race. we'll be right back. whoooo. when it comes to travel, i sweat the details. late checkout... ...down-alternative pillows... ...and of course, price. tripadvisor helps you book a... ...hotel without breaking a sweat. because we now instantly... ...search over 200 booking sites ...to find you the lowest price... ...on the hotel you want. don't sweat your booking. tripadvisor. the latest reviews. the lowest prices.
you know what's not awesome? gig-speed internet. when only certain people can get it. let's fix that. let's give this guy gig- really? and these kids, and these guys, him, ah. oh hello. that lady, these houses! yes, yes and yes. and don't forget about them. uh huh, sure. still yes! xfinity delivers gig speed to more homes than anyone. now you can get it, too. welcome to the party. charles blow is here, maria cardona, rick wilson and john fredericks. if you, as i said before the break, if you do your homework and you read, then you will understand that this election and immigration is about race and racist behavior rather than
economics, as many trump supporters would like to believe, some republicans who say it is. >> by the way, do your homework and read is two things apparently the president does not do. i just have to say that. i'm sorry. >> all right. you're being petty. i would encourage all of you, there is a piece in the "atlantic" that is called -- i think it is called the nationalist delusion. the nationalist illusion that you should read. and it goes through point by point about everything that we're talking about tonight and how it is not based on economics. that's a talking point. that's for racist deniers. they would like you to believe that. and that's a talking point they use. so with that said, john fredericks, how do you respond to that? this is about race. how can you say immigration, which is about people from different countries, different nationalities, coming in, has nothing to do with race and it's only about economics. >> well, don, i love you to death and i respect your opinion, and you know that. i've been with you a very long time. >> it's not opinion. it's fact.
>> we're good friends. well, you can give your facts. but that's your opinion, don. >> no, it's facts. i'm telling people to read the statistics and information -- >> you're telling them to re read -- and all the sanctimonious stuff that's going on here. what happened today is they had a meeting at the white house and dick durbin came in and they have 50,000 lottery visas of people that come in from countries that bring in uneducated and very low-skilled people that don't assimilate into the society -- >> john, i'm going to let you finish. let me ask you -- let me make one point here. no, i'm going to let you finish -- >> and the they're -- >> i want to ask you a question and i'm going to let you finish. hold on, okay? calm down. >> i believe you. >> okay. why do you keep bringing up uneducated people? because many immigrants, including yours, i'm sure, were not educated. so what does that have to do
with the price of tea? and many of these immigrants are educated. so where does that talking point come from? what you're saying is not true. it's a fallacy. >> first of all, it's not a talking point. second of all, we don't have full employment. third of all -- >> we are as close to full employment as we have ever been. >> so if you bring -- if you keep increasing the labor pool of low-skilled workers you drive down wages for americans. >> that's not true. >> this campaign -- the trump campaign -- it is true. >> then why -- >> let him finish and -- >> wages have not gone up, maria, in 30 years, and your kids are better off with trump as president because they have a better economic future -- >> absolutely not. >> if you look at australia -- >> thanks to obama. >> -- and canada, two of our neighbors with liberal labor governments, both of them have an immigration system that is based on merit. a system that says these are the
types of people we need to bring into our country -- >> okay. let others respond, please. >> to increase prosperity so everyone can make more money and be prosperous and not drive down your income, maria. >> then go move to canada, john. i think that there would be a lot of people who would applaud that. but you're just wrong. your premises are just completely based on fallacy. they are based on anti-immigrant well-known talking points but that are just simply not true. immigrants do not come here to lower wages. in fact, immigrants come here, and if we were to pass laws that would increase the minimum wage that would increase wages for all americans. this is -- that is just economics 101. so you just need to go read and make yourself educated on that. but the point here is, don, that this is something that -- it's not just a racist sentiment.
this is a dangerous place for the republican party to be, to go back to rick's point, which is i'm sure why he's so pissed off here. because the multicultural society in this country is only going to grow. i'm sorry, john, but there are going to be more black and brown babies born than white babies born, you know, very soon -- >> and you're getting at -- maria, you're getting at the crux of it. this is what people are very concerned about the demographics of the country changing. there's nothing you can do about it. rick, go on. >> i go back to this again. i'm curious that john doesn't have any objection to norwegian workers coming here to take high-skilled high-paying jobs or other workers with a mysterious demographic characteristic, i can't put my finger on, but you know, it goes back to a broader question. america is not a voke. we're not a narod. we are not a race of people. we're a proposition. we are an idea.
we're a constitution and a set of laws and principles and objectives that when you come here if you buy into that system and play by the rules in that system you are part of it. it is the american system. we are not based on a single demographic mix. and no matter what your flimsy economic excuses are about it -- because there have been a lot more changes in the economy of jobs being lost to automation than there are to immigration by orders of magnitude. >> okay. >> so you know, it really comes down to that point where if you believe in this country and you believe in the proposition of this country then you're colorblind to where people are coming from if they come to this country, follow the law, play by the rules and enter this society to work hard and raise their families and embrace the american dream. these are things that i know cause problems for people like john and for donald trump, and i know that they're looking for as many ways as they can tonight to
excuse and lie oh yver yes says this thing about shithole countries. but it's inexcusable. it's indefensible. >> we'll get you sometime, charles. i have to say that a lot of people have responded to me saying i don't know how you do it. people ask me all the time. but overwhelmingly now. because john, they consider what you said to me to be doubly insulting. and you apologized. i accept your apology. i do it because i think it's important for you to know. so i'm not going to get on my high horse here. but it's not easy. >> you love this country. >> and i love this country. but it's not easy to sit here every single night and hear people call an apple a banana, and we have that ad saying an apple is an apple and then you invite someone on who says an apple is a banana. it's frustrating. because you know it's not true. you know they know it's not true. and you know they're making excuses for it. and as a black person you know it's racist. and i've been telling you that for 2 1/2 years now.
so don't be shocked when someone shows you who they are. believe them. when we come back, the white house responding to a shithole controversy saying it's just the president's way of fighting for the american people. which people are those? we're going to ask a former white house senior adviser just how effectively a president can govern by playing only to his base. david axelrod joins me next. ♪ with expedia, you can book a flight, then add a hotel, and save. ♪ everything you need to go. expedia
resonate with trump's base. i want to bring in now cnn's senior political commentator david axelrod, a former senior adviser to president obama. thank you. it's so important to have you on. good evening, david. we appreciate it. people accused president obama of being divisive on race. and on a day like today what do you say? how do you feel? >> well, look, you know, one thing i think we ought to acknowledge, we can be outraged but we shouldn't be surprised. this is who donald trump is. i mean, this is how he ran his campaign. this is how he's handled himself throughout his life. i think this is maybe what he believes. so you know, the issue isn't that. nor is it that this is a new thing in our society. you know, i was listening to john frederick, and it reminded me of something that i had read recently, which was a speech by henry cabot lodge, who was a senator in the 1890s and after, prominent senator, arguing for
restrictions on immigration. the injury of unrestricted immigration to american wages and american standard of living is sufficiently plain and is bad enough but the danger which this immigration threatens to the quality of our citizenship is far worse." and he was talking about the immigration of poles, italians, of eastern europeans. we've heard this before. my father, don, was a refugee from one of these broken places that donald trump might have called in another time a shithole. and this country opened its arms to him. and i would like to think that he returned the favor by serving in the military and contributing to this country. so the question really isn't about who donald trump is. that's been asked and answered. the question is who are we? and what makes me sad -- i hear all of the shouting and screaming. but what makes me sad is america
does represent something special. >> right. >> it did to my family. it's done to generations of immigrants who've come here and who have made america great. it is those waves of immigrants who work hard and have dreams for their families that make america great. i know that's not the political question that you asked me, but i really feel strongly that tonight we ought to -- we ought to think about who we are as a country. forget -- the president is who he is. the question is who are we? and everyone should speak to that. >> well, that was part of my monologue. i asked in the opening, i said, what does that say about you? because we know what this president is. we know the history. the evidence is there. but then doubling down -- the white house issuing a statement, or saying that they believe that this is -- the base is enjoying that, david. what do you think of that? >> no, look, i don't doubt that in the cold, hard calculus of
their politics that it they believe this will resonate with the base. and if you look online and on social media, you can see in fact that there is that reaction. you heard john frederick articulate it a little bit earlier on your show here. but the thing is, and this is -- i'm beyond hoping that this will change. the president of the united states is the trustee of something much larger than their own political base. the president of the united states is the president of the entire country. and that's a role that donald trump simply is ill equipped to accept. he just won't see himself that way. they can say what they want about barack obama. i knew him very well. i served with him. he's been my friend for years. he had a deep, deep warm feeling for what america is. all of america. and what it represents. and he tried to speak to that and speak to the better angels
of our nature. you can either try to rally the country to those values and concerns that unite us or you can try and exploit our differences for your own political gain. and i think that what you've seen in this presidency is that that is going to be the answer to every question. >> david axelrod, always appreciate your expertise. thank you so much. don't miss "the ax files" with david axelrod. this week his special guest condoleezza rice. can't wait to see that and hear some of what she had to say about kim jong un. >> nuclear war is a very serious deal. but i think people would be mistaken to think that because the president has an ill-advised tweet we're about to have nuclear war with the north koreans. >> do you have any concerns about misinterpretations or provocations? >> i think kim jong un is turning out much more so than i thought to be actually pretty clever. >> you can catch the rest of the interview saturday night at 7:00 p.m. right here on cnn. now i want to talk more about
the president's racist comments today about immigrants. joining me now is cnn counterterrorism analyst phillip mudd, a former cia counterterrorism official. and louise radnovsky who has a big interview with president trump in the "wall street journal." i'm so glad to have both of you on. thank you so much. so are you shocked or surprised by this? >> my family was called whops and mackerel ears. i'm proud of that. we came when people from italy were seen as dirty people. they were called slopers and slant eyes. chinese people who built this country. [ bleep ] holers from japanese interment camps, and ones who escaped guatemala and el
salvador, civil wars we participated in, built this country. i worked for [ bleep ] holers who protected this country after 9/11. jose rodriguez was the head of count count count counter terrorism. i'm proud today to be one, and i want to t-shirt. let's stand against this and say it's not about black people, and it's not about white people from norway. it's about people who built america. he denigrated and that's a shame and learning a lesson today. >> everyone can't be out raged. but what you said brought tears my eyes because it's just so offensive. and i can't see how anyone can
make excuses for that. this is about pure racism. that's all it is. and to say otherwise it's either being in deep denial or being cunningly, cunningly deceiving. >> i've seen these conversations this is economic. so let's be clear. a white honky from norway can come here but a black dude from haiti can't. what does that tell you in one generation called you a [ bleep ], what does that tell you, don? we're learning the same lessons we learned when we called the nithese a slant eye, the man from guatemala a stick and slant back. 30-1 the e-mails i got were saying you speak from us and
we're not from africa. we're not from norway. we're from italy, ireland, grease. every single one of them were from a place where they would say, hey, hashtag, i'm one of them. >> your interview for "the wall street journal" is making a lot of news tonight, particularly his comments about north korea, which we're going to get to in a minute. but he also addressed immigration in your interview. and here's what he said. he says i'm not doing it because of the base or anything else. i'm doing it from the standpoint of heart. i'm doing it from the standpoint of common sense. i'm doing it from another standpoint, too. i have a lot of people of those 800, they work hard, they have jobs. we need workers in this country. we need people to come in and work because i have a lot of companies moving in. so he is welcoming immigration there because the country needs
workers. is that at all consistent with what he said during the immigration meeting today? >> well, it certainly strikes me differently. what he was talking about specifically was folks in the daca program. and he was very specific because we pressed him on this point about whether he was going to extend the same thinking to a broader comprehensive immigration reform which is commonly understood to extend a path for 11 million. he did also have his comments he made clear he was seserving very specifically for young immigrants but seemed a be in contrast with what he said later in the day. he expected an end to the visa lottery and some sort of reduction, he wasn't clear on this, on family based immigration to the united states as well. there's some short of foreshadowing there.
he specifically said he believed his base would support him. you heard the word base again. but his base would support him in making the permanent the daca program. >> he made another claim that many are finding hard to believe. he said i probably have a very good relationship with kim jong-un. i have relationships with people i think you people are surprised. can you set the scene for us here? >> we asked him a little bit more about that, for example, whether they spoke. and he declined to comment on that. we continued the conversation and you can read the full transcript on wsj.com. but he explains himself, you know, you tweet some fairly strong language at him. and he said, you know, i tweet a lot of strong language at a lot of people. you can find 20 or 30 examples where i do publicly spar with somebody but we have a good relationship and our
relationship may change over time as well. >> president trump is engaged in a war of words with kim jong-un, we know that. calling him rocket man, short and fat, a madman who doesn't mind starving and killing his people. are we really surprised to learn they have a good relationship or are we supposed to believe they have a good relationship? >> i can't agree with the what the president is doing for a simple foreign policy reason. if you're dealing with an adversary you don't understand their intentions and then you stir the pot. let me stir the pot by calling him little rocket man, how can you assume he will interpret that message as you think he will interpret that? that's what we call mirror imaging in intelligence. what if that persuades him that development of a missile and nuclear program is legitimate because you just threatened him? i think the problem with the president's statements is that he's playing with an audience he
doesn't understand. and i think that audience are going to look at that message and say that's why we're going to develop a nuclear program. >> this is cnn tonight. i'm don lemon. i'm sitting here on national television and i get to hear the president speak to the fire. god bless america. top of the hour. we'll be right back. for no reason?urer nah. so, why don't we like flo? she has the name your price tool, and we want it. but why? why don't we actually do any work? why do you only own one suit? it's just the way it is, underdeveloped office character. you're right. thanks, bill. no, you're bill. i'm tom. you know what? no one cares.
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this is "cnn tonight." i'm don lemon. it is 11:00 p.m. here on the east coast, and we're live with breaking news. the shameful racist comments by the president of the united states in an oval office meeting on immigration. complaining about immigrants from what he called [ bleep ] hole countries like haiti, el salvador and african nations going onto say, quote, why do we need more haitians? take them out. the haitian president, and a u.s. top diplomat to discuss this tonight. not only does the white house deny this but